ARMED with twice-to-beat incentives, Cafe France and Tanduay look to finish off their respective foes when the PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup quarterfinals begin on Thursday.
Cafe France is coming off back-to-back losses heading into the playoffs but coach Egay Macaraya is not too concerned. After all, he can still bank on well-rested Rod Ebondo and Paul Desiderio in the 3 p.m. match against Jose Rizal University at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
“We hope we learned our lessons and do much better in our quarterfinal game against JRU,” said Macaraya, who gave Ebondo and Desiderio limited minutes against Racal last Monday.
JRU coach Vergel Meneses, on the other hand, said the Heavy Bombers are bracing for a tough match against the Bakers, but vowed his wards led by Tey Teodoro won't go down without a fight.
“Lahat naman ng teams dito malakas eh, lalo na yung Cafe France. Ang sa akin lang, we’re ready, we’re here to gain experience, and we want to keep on fighting," said Meneses.
Meanwhile, Tanduay coach Lawrence Chongson considers the 5 p.m. tussle against AMA Online Education a do-or-die game even as the Rhum Masters enjoy a win-once edge over the Titans.
"Every game is a do-or-die for us simula nung pumasok ang March," said Chongson, who will rely on Mark Cruz, Jerwin Gaco along with newly acquired Lester Alvarez in the quarterfinal tiff.
"Whatever it takes, I’ll take it as long as we survive. Ganito naman tayo dito sa D-League eh. Sana maging last man standing kami," he added. “We still have to win. Even though we have the twice-to-beat, we still need to compete and find a way to win.”
AMA, however, will have to find a way to fill the void left by ace guard Juami Tiongson, who joined NLEX in its preparation for the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
Herrera said they are still adjusting to Tiongson's absence, which means added pressure on star Jeron Teng, to help the team overcome a twice-to-beat disadvantage.
"He averages 20-plus points a game plus siya ang nagke-create para sa akin. So masakit talaga na mawawala siya," Herrera said of Tiongson.
“Very short yung preparation time namin but at the end of the day, we need to move on,” he added.